Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu has a busy month ahead. File picture: Katlholo Maifadi/DIRCO News Service
November might be considered a busy month for most South Africans, but few can compete with International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu's schedule.

Over the next two weeks, Sisulu will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to engage on its upcoming elections, due to be held on December 23, before making her way to the AU meeting in Addis Ababa.

She will then proceed to Russia for the 15th session of the Joint Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Co-operation.

Before the month comes to an end, Sisulu will also fly to Washington for discussions with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and to engage the business community.

South Africans can be assured that their policy makers are going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the country's foreign relations are on a firm footing and it continues to court much-needed investment in the economy.

President Cyril Ramaphosa recently returned from Germany where he attended the G20 Investment Summit and the Compact with Africa Aid Conference.

“The visit augured well with South Africa’s investment drive to raise over R1trillion over the next five years as hundreds of German companies are currently running their businesses in South Africa,” Sisulu told a press briefing at the Department of International Relations yesterday.

Ramaphosa is scheduled to lead a delegation on a working visit to the EU in France and Belgium this week. Tomorrow, Ramaphosa will address the European parliament and meet key figures, including the president of the European parliament Antonio Tajani. He will then proceed to Brussels where he will meet King Philippe Leopold Louis Marie.

On Thursday, Ramaphosa will co-chair the seventh South Africa-EU Summit with the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

“South Africa is the only African country, and one of 10 countries globally, that has a strategic partnership with the EU,” Sisulu has said.

Closer to home, South Africa is keeping a close watch on developments in the DRC, ready to support what the government hopes will be a free and fair election in December.

“We are confident that preparations for the DRC elections are well on track, and we appeal to all political parties to commit to peaceful presidential elections,” Sisulu said.

“There was some concern as to whether the gadgets to be used in the elections would stand up. But what is important is that there is no violence in the DRC now.”

While the DRC government has said that it did not need assistance in financing the polls, Sisulu has advocated for intensive voter education.

On the issue of BRICS, Sisulu was asked at the press conference whether the election of far right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro as the new president of Brazil would place BRICS in a dilemma.

“From all accounts the elections in Brazil were free and fair," she responded. "During the campaign, Bolsonaro made a lot of unfortunate utterances but he was likely engaging in a lot of populist rhetoric in order to get elected. But we hope to bring him closer to us and that he will see it is beneficial to be on the side of the progressives.”

South Africa considers Brazil to be an important partner both in BRICS and IBSA, and hopes that the new Brazilian administration will align their vision to that of those groupings.

The Left in Brazil is reeling from campaign rhetoric which saw Bolsonaro making derogatory comments about Africans, Haitians, Afro-Brazilians, gays and women. It is yet to be seen whether the comments will form part of his alt-right agenda, or were expedient for electoral purposes in the context of an electorate desperate for change.